The Legacy of Washington DC’s 9:30 Club


Washington DC’s 9:30 Club, is known as one of the best venues in the country to see a rock show. It’s an experience as opposed to simply – a venue.

Smashing Pumpkins performed two legendary shows at the 9:30 club back in early January of 1996, as the club launched a grand new opening. Foo Fighters have also been partial to the 1,200 person capacity venue in Grohl’s hometown, performing there numerous times throughout their career – the most recent coming on their Sonic Highways club tour in 2014.

photo by Brian Liu

The legendary club recently hit the 35 year mark. To celebrate, acclaimed author, Roger Gastman, put together a commemorative book detailing some of the most magical moments.

Gastman wrote a guest article on Artist Waves, were he explains his history with club and reveals what he finds makes it so special:

“I’ve seen a lot of shows at both the old club and the new club. It’s safe to say I’ve probably been there a hundred times or more. There are so many that stick out in mind, but the first time I saw Gwar when again, I was in seventh grade on the Scumdogs of the Universe tour, I had never seen anything like it. I had seen the videos and heard about them, but didn’t truly know the experience until I saw them live at 9:30. I came home covered in the fake blood. Almost all shows, in the 9:30 Club you are in the show whether you want to be or not, and it makes you feel like you are on stage.

I probably saw the Dead Milkmen there a dozen times. I remember seeing Body Count on their first tour. Then there’s also random shows like Ride and Blur that were a little bit softer and I didn’t care much about back then, but tagged along with a friend, but years later as I grew to like those bands, I realized how lucky I was to get to see them at such an intimate venue.

There were many nights where if I didn’t have much to do, my friends and I could go catch a show at The 9:30 Club for $3, $5, or $8. It was so easy to go down there and hang out.
I saw the Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways show there as well. It was an awesome show. Just being in the room felt special, then seeing Pat Smear on stage playing with one of the biggest bands in the world, drinking a bottle of Champagne on stage and thinking — that’s funny, that guy was in the Germs.”


Regarding the book:
“I had done a lot of projects about DC and I’ve always enjoyed them. I know where a lot of the bodies are buried, you can say — from photographers to a guy that used to be in a band. I have a lot of great resources of DC subculture in music, graffiti and art through various projects I’ve done through the years. I was friendly with 9:30 Club Owner, Seth Hurwitz and numerous folks at 9:30. They wanted to come up with a special thing for their anniversary. They like to celebrate ever five years and wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. It seemed like there was more and more nostalgia around the club than ever. Nostalgia meaning — a spirited buzz, like it was a brand new club that just opened. I try to tell great oral histories and general stories that are unique and interesting. It just made sense to work together to tell the story in a book form. They always wanted to do that so I went out and started researching, interviewing and designing for the next year and a half.”

“The 9:30 Club will keep going and keep growing. Not growing in a sense that there will be six more new 9:30 Clubs, I just think the existing club will continue to be ahead of the curve. They will bring back the awesome bands that have always played there and bring in the big bands that you never expect to see in a small room, in addition to those young new surprises. I think they will continue their history of also being the breeding ground for young bands and continue to foster a lot of talent around the city. It’s a venue that all bands want to come back and play no matter who they are. There is no slowing down or stopping what they do. Ever. It’s become bigger than The 9:30 Club itself. It is its own institution in DC. You have all the museums and you have The 9:30 Club.”

To read Roger Gastman’s full article on the 9:30 Club, click here – or – visit
Follow Jeff Gorra on Twitter Here:


featured photo by: Kyle Gustafson